For many of us who started playing badminton, we got our first experience playing outside. You take your rackets, shuttlecock and just start hitting away. Often you find kids playing in their yard or at outdoor public locations during summer. Badminton outdoors can be a little fun, but the authentic experience comes from playing indoors.
Badminton can be played outdoors recreationally, but competitive badminton is only played indoors. The biggest environmental factor that makes badminton unfair when played outdoors is the wind as even a small gust of wind can affect a rally drastically. Factors such as the flooring and lighting are also big reasons why competitive badminton should be played indoors instead of outdoors.
Can Badminton Be Played on Grass?
Recreational badminton can be played on grass but competitive badminton cannot be played on grass due to several reasons. The biggest reason is because playing fast paced badminton on grass poses a big risk of injury.
Grass is relatively slippery and competitive badminton requires lots of changes in direction and lateral movements as well as jumps and lunges. All of these movements don’t mix well with grass and player performance is decreased in this environment. In fact, the best badminton flooring makes it very easy to grip the floor to help players change directions quickly and effectively.
On grass, what ends up happening is that your body has to work harder to apply your movements which can make you more prone to slipping or pulling a muscle the wrong way. However, if you’re just playing recreationally and are not going to actually move a lot, it’s not too bad.
Can Badminton Be Played on Sand?
You can also play recreational badminton on the sand for fun, but you might find it too difficult. It poses some of the same challenges and dangers as playing on grass would. Because sand is often uneven, it’s easy to sink and lose momentum for your movement. That makes it very difficult to execute the right moves to hit the shuttlecock.
Often, you’ll find yourself overcommitting, only to be unable to hit anything in the first place. Badminton’s design is for hard surfaces, and sand is hardly consistent.
Another issue is that beaches are often very windy locations which can heavily affect gameplay or even making it impossible to play. You’ll often find it impossible to play for long periods of time because of shifting weather. In another scenario, your shuttlecock can even land on the water. The water damages the feathers, and you find yourself unable to play.
You’ll find that most beach sports are team games because you need to make drastic movements while on the sand. It’s difficult to recover fast enough for the next hit after diving. You can solve this problem with a doubles or even a triples match, but the weather is still a concern.
For these reasons, competitive badminton is never played on sand or outdoors. It’s simply too limiting to the players’ movement. However, there are certainly alternatives to badminton that work well on sand.
In the 2010s, the BWF began exploring a possible option for beach badminton. However, they could not solve the inherent problems with badminton’s design. A fan-made version called crossminton, also known as speedminton, became popular and has since become a separate sport.
Learning from their previous findings, the BWF eventually did more research and development on a new game called AirBadminton. It’s similar to badminton but was designed to be played outdoors and even on sand. The shuttlecock is designed specifically to be resistant to wind and can be played with up to 3 players on each team.
Why Shouldn’t Competitive Badminton Be Played Outdoors?
It’s never recommended to play competitive badminton outdoors because of the weather. The wind can easily influence the shuttlecock’s direction, and strong gusts make play unfair. Badminton is a very detail oriented and subtle sport, so any slight movements can heavily affect gameplay. Since the shuttlecock is so light, at around 5 grams (0.17 ounces), it’s easy for even a little bit of wind to move the shuttlecock.
Furthermore, when it’s raining, the ground becomes slippery, and you’ll be prone to falling. Competitive badminton is all about having great movement and a slippery floor is a big no-no. Tripping is certainly one of the things you don’t want to have to worry about when you’re playing an intense game of badminton.
What Equipment Is Needed to Play Badminton Outdoors?
For the most part, you need the standard badminton equipment if you want to play outdoors. Here’s an overview of each.
Badminton clothing is designed to be comfortable even as you’re moving around. Since badminton can involve intense movements and a lot of sweating, you need to wear these over your normal clothes. This clothing can absorb heat to keep you comfortable and is light enough. Often, badminton wear consists of shorts or skirts and a comfortable shirt. If the weather is colder outside, track pants can also be worn.
The racket is one of the most vital pieces of equipment along with the shuttlecock. You won’t be able to play without a racket. These often come in different weights and sizes. Players like to bring one that matches their comfort or playstyle.
There are different types of rackets, depending on your skill level. Advanced rackets require more strength and technique but you gain added precision.
There are plenty of rackets on the market and it can be confusing to understand which one to get. If you plan on playing outdoors just for fun, you can probably just get any cheap racket but if you want some better rackets for competitive indoor play, you should see my picks for the 4 Best Badminton Rackets for Beginners.
If you want to bring along multiple rackets, you can consider bringing a badminton bag. It is optional but a way to keep all your equipment sorted as you travel. Professionals often have larger bags with them. I’ve written a full guide on the most popular badminton bags on the market over at The Complete Guide to Yonex Badminton and Tennis Bags which you should check out if you want a nice bag.
While a net is not necessary if you’re playing casually, it adds another level of fun and challenge to the game. Before, it was impossible to bring a net outdoors because of their size. Nowadays, you can buy portable nets easily that make it more convenient to start a game.
Shuttlecocks come either in feather or synthetic material. Feather shuttlecocks are the staple in competitive matches though they are more fragile. If you are a beginner, you could start with a synthetic one as they are cheap and durable. Later on, you can transition to a feather one. Take a look at my comparison between synthetic shuttlecocks and feathered shuttlecocks for a better idea of the differences.
If you’re playing outdoors, you won’t want to use indoor badminton shoes, but rather shoes that are designed for outdoor use like tennis shoes. However, you don’t want to use any shoes that are too high since it’ll make it easier for you to trip or roll your ankle.
For indoor badminton, there are many options that use the latest cutting edge technology. Take a look at The Complete Guide to Yonex Badminton Shoes for more information.
For Non-competitive Badminton, Where Can You Play Badminton Outdoors?
If you’re playing casually, there are many places you can start a game. As long as you have enough space, you can set up there. Here are some locations where people play:
- Open areas
- Outdoor courts
The ideal place is to find somewhere closed off. An outdoor court with an enclosure can prevent wind from influencing shuttlecock movement. Ideally, you’ll also have protection from the sun and a hard floor surface that can match indoor locations.